Friday, July 19, 2024
 
 

Israel, Greece, Cyprus see a role in EU energy security

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JERUSALEM, Israel – Shifting geopolitical alliances have reinforced ties between Israel, Greece and Cyprus, strengthening Europe’s energy security.

“We have improved over the last five years the relationship between Greece and Cyprus dramatically,” Mark Regev, chief spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, told New Europe in Jerusalem on November 19.

“It all happened almost accidently. We were in Moscow for a meeting with [Vladimir] Putin,” Regev said, adding that Netanyahu met then Greek premier George Papandreou while they two were dining separately late one night at the Pushkin restaurant in Moscow in 2010.

“It was the end of the day and they met at the restaurant and basically said, ‘We’re two democracies on the eastern edge of the Mediterranean, we should have a stronger relationship.’ And within weeks we had the visit of the Israeli Prime Minister in Greece and Mr Papandreou came here for his own visit. And since then the relationship has gotten stronger and also with Cyprus,” Regev said.

Netanyahu’s chief spokesman admitted that relationship with Turkey has deteriorated. “I was with my prime minister when we went to Athens and I was with my prime minister when we went to Nicosia. We always said our relationship is not against anyone else,” Regev said. “We would like to have a better relationship with Turkey but it takes two people to tango,” he added.

Regev said Israel is talking with Greece, Cyprus and other countries about possible ways to exploit its offshore gas reserves and export them to the markets. “Obviously it’s nice that we will become an energy exporter,” he said. “For us the big thing about the energy is that we built our economy on the assumption we had no natural resources,” he said. “For now it is an added value.”

Energy ministers from Euro-Mediterranean countries met in Rome this week where Israel’s Energy Minister Silvan Shalom proposed that EU countries invest in a multi-billion euro pipeline (EastMed) to carry its natural gas to the continent, noting that the supply from Israel would reduce Europe’s current dependence on natural gas from Russia. The pipeline would carry gas from Israel’s Mediterranean cost to Cyprus, from where the gas would be carried on to Greece and Italy.

Paul Hirschson, deputy spokesperson for Israel’s Foreign Ministry, told New Europe in Tel Aviv late on November 17 that potential private investors involved will make the decisions – not the government of Israel.

Hirschson said “the issues that came up between Israel and Turkey” may have facilitated closer ties between Tel Aviv, Nicosia and Athens.

“Israel is making a big effort to nurture improved relations with as many people as possible all over the world but particularly in our neighborhood. With the discovery of gas and hopefully oil in the region offshore it becomes even more important,” he said.

“For economic reasons, political reasons but also for regional security regions, we believe that the relationships that we have seen nurtured in the last few years particularly between Israel and Greece and Cyprus, Albania, Bulgaria, are critical to regional security,” he said, highlighting the instability in the Middle East, North Africa as well as economic problems and issues in Europe.

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See also:

Egypt, Greece, Cyprus, Israel team up for Mediterranean gas

Previously on Energy Insider:

EU Energy Union Chief To Tackle South Stream

Hungarian Dance: Playing Russia’s Energy Tune Worries US

EU Subsidy Keeps Russian Gas Coming to Ukraine

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Co-founder / Director of Energy & Climate Policy and Security at NE Global Media

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